"TALK THAT TALK" - RIHANNA
I would have lost money if I had bet against the idea that the sweet, young girl from the islands who sang the cute but fluffy, "Pon De Replay" back in 2005 would become one of the biggest pop stars in the world. But that is exactly what Rihanna is now.
"Talk That Talk" is the pop superstar's sixth album over the past seven years. After the darker period of the last two albums, Rihanna is now decidedly in a light, sexy mood, confident and looking for fun. The singer hasn't changed the winning formula too much as there is still a very large stable of hot writers and producers to help mold her sound.
"Do Ya Thang" - Rihanna (2011)
"HOW DO YOU DO" - MAYER HAWTHORNE
Meyer Hawthorne has returned with a fun and funky new album, "How Do You Do" on his new major label, Universal Republic Records. He has continued the old school r&b vibe that was featured on his terrific debut, "A Strange Arrangement" and with this new release, Mr. Hawthorne has delivered an even stronger album of classic silky soul perfectly blended with hip-hop beats. He's even has rapper, Snoop Dogg singing on a track!
"Can't Stop" - Mayer Hawthorne Featuring Snoop Dogg (2011)
"CEREMONIALS" - FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE
Flame-haired, English songstress, Florence Welch has reassembled her Machine (Isabella Summers on keyboards, guitarist, Robert Ackroyd, Chris Hayden on drums, bassist, Mark Saunders and Tom Monger on the harp) to release the follow-up to the band's highly successful 2009 debut album, "Lungs".
On "Ceremonials", Florence delivers a dark, moody and ballad-heavy collection using that unique voice to create more of her wonderfully, quirky orchestral art-rock songs.
"Lover To Lover" - Florence & The Machine (2011)
"STRONGER" - KELLY CLARKSON
The very first "American Idol" winner, Kelly Clarkson is still the best vocalist to come off of that show and with her fifth album, "Stronger" she delivers more of her trademark countryified pop-rock songs with hints of r&b scattered throughout.
Unfortunately, there are no surprises and Ms Clarkson would greatly benefit from stretching herself much further but it's still a solid, entertaining pop album.
"Mr. Know-It-All" - Kelly Clarkson (2011)
"DUETS II" - TONY BENNETT
Veteran pop singer, Tony Bennett has recorded over seventy albums during his long career and has recently made history, at the age of eighty-five, as being the oldest artist to ever have a album debut at the top of the Billboard Hot 200 Album chart.
"Duets II" is the a follow-up to his 2006 hit album, "Duets" which, once again, pairs him up with a wide spectrum of musical artists who perform many classic songs from the Great American Songbook. It includes an impressive list of vocalists such as Faith Hill, Andrea Bocelli, Queen Latifah, Alejandro Sanz, Lady Gaga and the late Amy Winehouse.
Here is Mr. Bennett's amusing duet with a game, Lady Gaga:
"The Lady Is A Tramp" - Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga (2011)
This is the video of Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse perfroming their rendition of "Body and Soul":
"MY LIFE II" - MARY J. BLIGE
Mary J. Blige's tenth studio album, "My Life II" is a sequel (of sorts) to her 1994 album. During the time of the "My Life" album, Mary was dealing with drug addiction, depression and an abusive relationship but she is now a happily married woman with a positive outlook which is reflected in the songs on the latest album.
Although Mary lined up some of the top producers (Darkchild, Danja, Tricky Stewart) and performers (Beyonce, Nas, Drake) on this project but the final results fails to live up to the original album. There are are some fine moments to be found but overall it lacks the true passion and power of some of the classic songs, "You Bring Me Joy", "I Love You" and the title track off of "My Life"
"25/8" - Mary J. Blige (2011)
"NOTHING BUT THE BEAT" - DAVID GUETTA
French DJ, David Guetta is currently one of the most popular record spinners in the world and has very successfully moved in to music production.
On his fifth album, "Nothing But The Beat", Mr. Guetta has once again rounded up a group of all-star talent from the world of r&b, hip-hop and pop to perform on this disc. Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Lil' Wayne, Jennifer Hudson and Sia are just a few of the names that make an appearance and the collaboration with Usher on the song, "Without You" has reached number four on the pop chart. The relentless, throbbing beats can grow slightly tiresome after a while but for the lovers of dance music, David Guetta can do no wrong.
"Turn Me On" - David Guetta featuring Nicki Minaj (2011)
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